This could be my least loved post, not helped I’m sure by me originally titling it ‘ Annarchie Gordon ‘ which means naff all to everyone( well almost). By way of a postscript I found a tape I had made of ‘The Noah’s Ark Trap’ and I had great plans to digitalise the great man’s work and at last put his version of Annarchie Gordon on YouTube . Alas, after years of neglect my cassette player refused to be coaxed into life. Having developed an interest in Chess in the last couple of years I think it is time to question whether the Noah’s Ark Trap even exists as a thing, I have never heard of it.
And so ladies and gentlemen……the great Nic Jones!
‘There are those who’d have you keep
Folk songs for the sheep
I shared such an aspersion
Until I heard a version of a ballard by the name of Annarchie Gordon
By one Nic Jones
John Peel it was who brought me to ken
The ligering longing in the wavering tones
Over intricate patterns of the fingering bones
Since when many folk songs have moistened my eye
And I can see why
The Morris Dancer sports a spare hanky’
‘An Introduction to Folk’ by John Hegley
In the early 1980’s finding myself with very little money but plenty of time I discovered the delights of Nottingham library’s limited but adequate supply of Jazz and Folk vinyl. I knew the name Nic Jones, presumably, like Hegly from the John Peel Show and hence The Noah’s Ark Trap became mine for the duration of 7 days.
Jones had a formidable guitar technique, the only person I could really compare him with was Martin Carthy but vocally and musically Jones seemed to have a lighter touch which made him more acceptable to my ears, the ‘folk’ tag was arbitary, there was something quite contemporary about Nic Jones. Perhaps this is less surprising considering the fact that the album had been recorded in 1977, in the year of punk Jones was touring the folk clubs as if nothing had happened which as far as he was concerned was probably true.
And thats one of the great things about folk, at a time when other established artists were deciding whether to get their hair cut or take in their flares or to start writing songs that were under three minutes long Jones was prettty much doing the same thing without acknowledging fashion for the duration of the decade. Over five albums from 1970 to 1980 his playing became a little more muscular and the additional musicians a little more prominent buts there’s not a lot to separate each of them.
The Noah’s Ark Trap sat in the middle of the quintet and made a lasting impression on me especially the aforementioned Annarchie Gordan. A tragic tale of forced marriage and death but with a lovely vocal performance with guitar accompaniment which was almost funky.
With that sort of build up you are probably salivating at the prospect of hearing the song performed by the master.
Well you cant.
Amazingly in the days of YouTube Amazon and Spotify this is probably the only track that you cant hear on the internet. The only way you can hear it is to find someone who has a copy of the Noah’s Ark Trap and ask them nicely to play it to you. Most of Jones’s output has never been re released, in fact the only one that is freely available is Penguin Eggs which is a fine album (it was voted the second best folk album of all time by listeners on the Mike Harding Show) but the lack of availability of his other records is a disgrace only to those who have heard of Nic Jones; and now that includes you.
So here is Mary Black instead, its fine but….well its not Nic.
And here is a track that found it’s way onto YouTube
No one makes it rich from Folk and Jones was always working, criss crossing the country playing clubs. He located to Cambridgeshire to make travelling the country reasonably easy with the possibility of getting home after a gig. Almost home after a gig in Derbyshire his car hit a lorry carrying bricks.
And that was the end of his career.1982 Almost every bone in his body was broken, some of his teeth ended up in his lungs,The artist known as Nic Jones was no more but the man survived and his reputation grew in his absence.
And Nic Jones is still with us today, maybe unlike Peter Bellamy he was spared the despair of falling out of fashion or having to play the same clubs for the next 30 years.
Here he is with Kate Rusby
Time to find that spare hanky